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This publication is designed to help title II and title III entities (“covered entities”) understand how the rules for effective communication, including rules that went into effect on March 15, 2011, apply to them.

In addition, aids and services include a wide variety of technologies including 1) assistive listening systems and devices; 2) open captioning, closed captioning, real-time captioning, and closed caption decoders and devices; 3) telephone handset amplifiers, hearing-aid compatible telephones, text telephones (TTYs) , videophones, captioned telephones, and other voice, text, and video-based telecommunications products; 4) videotext displays; 5) screen reader software, magnification software, and optical readers; 6) video description and secondary auditory programming (SAP) devices that pick up video-described audio feeds for television programs; 7) accessibility features in electronic documents and other electronic and information technology that is accessible (either independently or through assistive technology such as screen readers) .

For example, school staff usually talk to a parent about a child’s progress; hospital staff often talk to a patient’s spouse, other relative, or friend about the patient’s condition or prognosis.

The rules refer to such people as “companions” and require covered entities to provide effective communication for companions who have communication disabilities.

Covered entities must provide aids and services when needed to communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities.

The key to deciding what aid or service is needed to communicate is to consider the nature, length, complexity, and context of the communication as well as the person’s normal method(s) of communication.

Similarly, Braille is effective only for people who read Braille.

Other methods are needed for people with vision disabilities who do not read Braille, such as providing accessible electronic text documents, forms, etc., that can be accessed by the person’s screen reader program.

For example, people who are blind may give and receive information audibly rather than in writing and people who are deaf may give and receive information through writing or sign language rather than through speech.VRI can be especially useful in rural areas where on-site interpreters may be difficult to obtain.Additionally, there may be some cost advantages in using VRI in certain circumstances.For example, sign language interpreters are effective only for people who use sign language.

Other methods of communication, such as those described above, are needed for people who may have lost their hearing later in life and do not use sign language.

TRS also provides speech-to-speech transliteration for callers who have speech disabilities.